In 2013, Tim Cook called this the post-PC era. But that hasn’t really turned out to be the case. The PC still stubbornly sticks around.
It certainly is true that the peak for the PC has past. PC sales (laptops and desktops) were greatest in 2011, and it has only declined since. But tablet sales have also declined, with their peak being only 2 years after that of the PC [statista]. The trend therefore, is clearly not that people are replacing their desktops and laptops for tablets. Instead, people are buying fewer of these devices year on year.
In truth, the tablet was never going to replace the PC. Despite what Apple (or its CEO) have tried to claim. (Microsoft claimed this before Apple, but it was clear that what Apple and Microsoft class as tablets are totally different.) And, I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why Tim Cook said that. He of all people must realise the unique opportunities the PC brings.
In a fairly recent statement, Cook said:
“The desktop is very strategic for us. It’s unique compared to the notebook because you can pack a lot more performance in a desktop — the largest screens, the most memory and storage, a greater variety of I/O, and fastest performance. So there are many different reasons why desktops are really important, and in some cases critical, to people.”
It seems that Cook did deliver on that promise just yesterday at WWDC, with a refresh of pretty much all of the Mac line-up (sorry Mac Mini), including the Mac Pro which we can assume will be replaced by the iMac Pro. So it would appear that Apple’s post-PC mentality was a fad, a blip in history, hastily to be forgotten. Just a reminder of that history:
Just before WWDC yesterday, the Mac Pro was over 3 years old (still technically is), the Mac Mini was over 2 years old (and terrible) (yeah, that’s still true), and the iMac hadn’t been updated since October 2015.
It’s always easy to take history out of context, so compare that to Apple’s previous record: the average refresh cycle for the iMac is 317 days compared to 460+ days since the last iMac before WWDC yesterday [MacRumors]. The Mac Pro also had a 3 year gap between the 2010 model and the 2013 trash can, but the 2010 model was future proofable making this gap less painful for many prosumers. So clearly, this was not normal Apple behaviour.
Apple also released a new iPad Pro and a slew of new features specifically for iOS on the iPad, bringing it more in line with the MacOS desktop. It’s clear that Apple sees a future with limited room for the PC, but for now the PC is very much part of the future.